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Overflowing coolant


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14 replies to this topic

#1 nmos

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 12:22 AM

I have a 97 Impreza OBS with the 2.2L engine.  About 11 days ago I was half way through a 2 hour drive back home on the freeway and I decided to pull off and get something out of the trunk and I left the car idling.  While back there I heard the cooling fan kick on and when I got back in I saw the temp had rising to maybe 3/4 of the way up the gauge.  I drove maybe 50 feet further to get under some better lighting and the temp immediately dropped back.  When I popped the hood I could see that the coolant overflow bottle was full and had probably already spit out some coolant.  I kept a close eye on the temperature the rest of the way home and it stayed stable right where it normally is but the coolant level was definately low after I got home and let the engine cool off.  I topped it off and have been keeping an eye on it but today my wife mentioned that she heard a gurgling sound when she started it in the morning and sure enough it was low again.  I'm NOT seeing any bubbles coming up through the overflow bottle so I don't think it's a head gasket.  I should mention that maybe a week before this incident I had noticed that the engine seemed to be idling just a little less smooth than normal.  It is due for another timing belt and I thought maybe the old one had stretched a bit throwing off the timing.

 

My two theories at this point are A)  loose timing belt slipping a bit on the water pump or B ) radiator cap.  Any thoughts?


Edited by nmos, 01 May 2014 - 12:25 AM.


#2 88coupe

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 04:53 AM

The overflow bottle has a small hole near the top on the side against the radiator. I'd say its not too much bigger than a wooden match stick and coolant will drain out between the bottle & rad, then as it cools down coolant is drawn back into the rad and it'll be low. That draining coolant could evaporate before its seen leaking as its a small flow sandwiched between the bottle and a hot radiator. I actually noticed this exact situation in my car yesterday, I removed the bottle when draining out the system and the backside had a coolant residue which was kinda "cooked" on. It did come off with some soap & brush.



#3 johnceggleston

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 06:59 AM

you probably have a leak.

it could be the cap,

but it could be a hose .

 

keep an eye on it.

i would drive to full temp,

and then let it idle in the drive way.

look for a leak underneath the car.

my cap leaked but only under full temp,

not when cold.

 

caps are cheap, replace it.

but i might try and locate the problem first.

look at the seal on the cap,

does it look bad?

 

the other thing to pay attention to is filling and burping the system.

the cooling system is hard to fill without trapping air.

so if it gets low enough to trap air,

you need to burp it.

 

search ''how to fill and burp your cooling system''.



#4 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:54 AM

does that car have 2 fans? make sure they both are working.



#5 willwright

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 06:33 PM

I'm going to put my money on headgakset unfortunately. Definitely check what others are suggesting as far as cap, fans, etc. If its over filling the overflow bottle its going to be the cap or head gasket, no 3 ways about it. If you watch the overflow bottle for bubbles, wat h it for 2 or 3 minutes and don't blink lol. If water pump or thermostat wasn't working or stuck, it would over heat noatter how fast you were moving. I hope its not your head gaskets but your symptoms sound like its in the beginning stages of it rearing its ugly head. No pun intended.

#6 johnceggleston

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 06:41 PM

if it were an ej25 i would definitely agree with head gaskets.

but since it is an ej22,

that is the last thing i would suspect.

but it could be.



#7 willwright

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:05 PM

Well I was hesitant to say it because it is the 22 but, he heard the fans running so we know they are working , coolant bottle was full and ( may) have spilled over, was fine rest of way home but has since most more coolant but didn't say if overflow was full again, only said it was low again, has noticed its been idling a little rough and it is due ( another ) timing belt change. I guess I'm assuming a bit but I'm think close to 200k on it???? Or maybe Im reading too much into it. Either way I hope not head gaskets but I don't think belt would ever be slack enough to slip and not drive water pump enough without jumping more than a tooth or 2 in as many weeks. Coolant is going somewhere if its been low twice. Guess I could go the route of thermostat sticking some and pushing coolant out of overflow , but, he didn't say its been overheating enough to do so. I'm not arguing at all just thinking out loud lol.

#8 ocei77

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:26 PM

Especially on the 2.2 I would look into the T stat ( how old?), radiator cap and a possible oncoming failure of the water pump.

Do the simple stuff first.

If it comes to the water pump, do it along with your t belt and idlers.

 

O.



#9 nmos

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 11:37 AM

does that car have 2 fans? make sure they both are working.

Yes, both fans work.



#10 nmos

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 12:10 PM

Well I was hesitant to say it because it is the 22 but, he heard the fans running so we know they are working , coolant bottle was full and ( may) have spilled over, was fine rest of way home but has since most more coolant but didn't say if overflow was full again, only said it was low again, has noticed its been idling a little rough and it is due ( another ) timing belt change. I guess I'm assuming a bit but I'm think close to 200k on it???? Or maybe Im reading too much into it. Either way I hope not head gaskets but I don't think belt would ever be slack enough to slip and not drive water pump enough without jumping more than a tooth or 2 in as many weeks. Coolant is going somewhere if its been low twice. Guess I could go the route of thermostat sticking some and pushing coolant out of overflow , but, he didn't say its been overheating enough to do so. I'm not arguing at all just thinking out loud lol.

 

You are pretty much on the mark.  It's got around 230k miles.  Water pump was replaced at the same time as the timing belt but nothing else cooling related has been done since except for radiator hoses so the cap may be original.  I haven't caught it overflowing again but it's my wife's daily driver and her last mile on the way home is slow but with no stops so it would probably be back down by the time she gets here.  I'll have her leave it idling when she gets home and see what it does.  In the mean time I'll order a radiator cap.  I don't know if the t-stat is origional or not but I've never replaced it so it's at least 100k+ old however the temp mostly seems really stable.  In other vehicles where I've had a bad t-stat the temp take forever to warm up (stuck open) and then would wander quite a bit but this one isn't doing that.  If it were stuck closed the trip home that night would have overheated it for sure since  it was 75+ mph driving up long hills etc (4k+ elevation increase).

 

I've been putting off the timing belt because back 100k+ ago I made the mistake of having someone else do it and he didn't torque down the nut holding the harmonic balancer enough and it started to wobble loose damaging the key way and  the belt did skip a tooth or two so I ended up re-doing the job and was forced to use loctite on the harmonic balancer due to the keyway issue (it kept wobbling loose otherwise) so I know I'm in for a battle getting it off.



#11 ocei77

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 02:28 PM

I'd do the T stat (oem or Stant Xactstat only) and radiator cap.

If that fixes the overheating issue, then go on to the T belt etc.

A breaker bar against the frame and bump the starter, will pop the crank bolt loose.



#12 willwright

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 04:13 PM

Well the good news is I would dare say if it hasn't refilled and overflowed coolant reservoir again then it may very well NOT be the head gaskets. When my ej25 was doing it , it would do it worse some days more than others however strange that seems. But within a couple days it would become low because it would push out more coolant into overflow than it would take back in. However, about every 30-45 seconds I would about 3 or 4 tiny bubbles in my overflow, I had to really not take my eyes off of it or I would miss them. Mine never overheated because I guess I am a gauge watcher more than a road watcher lol. I doubt you will havebtoo such trouble with crank bolt even using lock tight. I loosen all my bolts with an impact but I never tighten with it so that's an option.

#13 88coupe

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 04:57 AM

I have seen a EJ22 with leaking head gasket(s) that has been daily driven for over 70,000mi with a gutted thermostat. It ran good, never went above operating temp, and maintained MPG. Although radiator hose would balloon up, it would hold pressure for days and would have quite a bit of foam at the top. I think it eventually got a safety rad cap with the lever opened a little bit to help release pressure instead of blowing a hose or seal. I'll still see the car around from time to time. So there is a chance to keep the car running/driving for a little while so you can get enough money to replace the head gaskets.



#14 johnceggleston

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 09:16 AM

when you hear hoof beats,

think horses, not zebras.

 

when dealing with an overheating ej22,

think coolant leak, not head gasket leak.



#15 willwright

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 02:25 PM

Coolant leak and system low on coolant is one thing, over heating combined with an overflowing / full overflow bottle is another. Guess we will all see. Hope its not a zebra




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